Tell us about the process... ?
Every project is definitely a labour of love... even small projects go through so many steps before completion. First you start with a design, which takes lots of consideration and planning - the design is so important! Everything has to be considered at this first step - the scale of the piece will dictate where certain lines will sit for reinforcement and the placement (such as if it's hanging) also needs to be decided now for strength purposes. Funnily enough sometimes the aesthetic of a design comes second!
After that, choosing the glass is definitely the hardest part for me - sometimes there's too much choice. I buy the glass in 30cmx30cm sheets which range anywhere from $30 to $60 each. Then the paper design is cut using special scissors that take 1mm off each edge to allow for fitting all the pieces together. Some people like to trace their shapes from these cutouts onto the glass, but I prefer to stick them on with a glue stick for more accuracy. Then, rough cuts are made using a carbide glass cutter and running pliers. There's still lots of sharp jagged edges and nothing fits together yet, which is where the glass grinder comes in. It's a carbide head that spins on a motor really fast, smoothing down all the sharp bits and getting the piece to the exact shape it needs to be. It's really messy, you need to use water for grinding and it splashes literally everywhere, it drives me crazy!
After all the pieces are ground and they fit the design, there's a couple of different ways of joining them together. I use copper foil, which is wrapped around the edges of each piece. After they're all wrapped, I turn the soldering iron onto 450°C and get melting the lead solder onto the copper to join it all together.
There's no denying that stained glass is a dangerous art. There's sharp shards of glass, lead, high temperatures and nasty fumes, you really have to keep a clean and tidy workspace and always wear eye protection and ventilate your space. And just when you've been through all of that, there's about 8 more steps to polishing and finishing before it's done. All of these steps take hours upon hours. Each piece really is laborious, which I think is super special knowing that someone has lovingly pored over a work for so long to make sure the finished product is perfect.
Tell us about the types of glass you use?
I use such a wide variety of glass! Some of my favourites are all of the transparent Waterglass by a company called Spectrum. Every colour is beautiful and has a soft and gentle ripple effect that looks beautiful no matter where it's placed. I really like light and pastel opaques too. The bulk of my glass collection is yellow, orange, brown and pink - I'm a warm tones gal and often struggle to use up colours like blue and green, but I'm working on it!
What's your favourite piece to date?
My favourite piece to date is definitely my art nouveau flowers. I've always loved the humble Nasturtium, so these are definitely inspired by those which was a motif very much loved during the nouveau craze. I remember finishing it after a period of time where I wasn't feeling particularly motivated to make. When it was complete I remember thinking to myself, "I'm back!"